Housing Matters – November 2018

CEO Report

At the Sydney Policy Lab on Friday 16 November 2018, Joseph Stiglitz spoke wise words on inequality and its negative effect on both individuals and the wider economy. While it wasn’t a specifically housing focused event; there was more on education and employment outcomes, one thing that struck me was the reference to locational disadvantage and how poorer neighbourhoods usually end up with poorer schools and other facilities, reinforcing inequality. An excellent argument for building social and affordable housing mixed in with market housing.

And closer to home the Productivity Commission’s recent research on inequality well summarised in this Conversation article clearly illustrates ‘that in the decades ahead we will need both policies that generate economic growth and policies that ensure its well spread’.

And housing that is secure and affordable is one way to ensure that the benefits of growth are well spread. Another report – this time from AHURI, showed just how far behind we have slipped in providing this vital infrastructure. In NSW we need 212,000 new social housing properties over the next 20 years to meet the current shortfall and meet the needs of people in housing stress as the State’s economy and population grows.

The study by RMIT and UNSW researchers shows that NSW accounts for 30% of social housing need in Australia, with 141,000 new properties needed in Sydney, and 72,000 in regional NSW by 2036 to address the current shortage and meet the future needs of people who are homeless and renters on very low incomes paying more than 30% of their earnings on housing costs.

This means we need growth and while there are understandable concerns about ‘overdevelopment’  we need to have a more in-depth, positive discussion about what this growth should look like and its benefits and challenges. Without growth we face the prospect of more lower income households priced out of suburbs where they have lived for years, more homelessness and ultimately greater disadvantage. Its why CHIA NSW will be working with our colleagues in the not for profit sector, private industry and communities, and government, to ensure we get policies and practice that deliver equitable, sustainable and liveable growth.

‘Housing will be a national priority for Labor’: Bill Shorten sets out Labor’s housing policy at the national CHIA AGM

– Deborah Georgiou reporting.

The Hon Bill Shorten, Leader of the Federal Opposition Labor Party, addressed over 150 members of the community housing industry and industry supporters at the CHIA AGM on the 20 November. To the considerable excitement of everyone in the room  he announced that housing is a ‘national priority for Labor’ and that he wanted secure and affordable housing to be ‘front and centre’ of the debate for the next decade and beyond and that.

Bill Shorten, Leader of the Labor Party, addressing the national CHIA AGM

Mr Shorten confirmed Labor’s commitment to its negative gearing and capital gains discount policies, stating that he wanted to ensure a fairer housing system. He went onto say he considers housing to be essential infrastructure and appeared to recognise that a safe, secure affordable home enables people to get and keep jobs.

Mr Shorten highlighted the housing issues facing many Australians which our members want to help solve – women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, the growing numbers of homeless older women and the significant shortfall in housing needed for Aboriginal people. He also highlighted the issues for people with disability, and for those waiting for social housing as well as families renting unsustainably in the private rental sector or those he described as ‘people living life on that thin, unforgiving margin’.

Bill Shorten, Senator Doug Cameron, Michael Lennon Chair of CHIA, and Kate Colvin, Spokesperson for the Everybody’s Home Campaign

Some of the key messages for the audience were that Labor wants to put community housing and affordable housing on the agenda for the next election and that this needs to start with a national plan. Mr Shorten said that he would be making a major speech about Labor’s housing policy platform later this year and stated that he was committed to dealing with the funding gap to ensure investment in housing for key workers and the working poor.

Mr Shorten ended his address with the statement that nothing is more fundamental that the right of every Australian to have a roof over their head.

Mr Shorten was followed by the Hon Doug Cameron, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness who talked about the work of Professor Duncan McLennan, which many CHIA NSW members contributed to, in providing evidence about the role that housing plays in delivering economic productivity.

Doug was clear that the community housing sector is the answer in the long term to delivering vibrant communities across the country. He is particularly keen to get Super funds to invest in Australian affordable housing, as they already do overseas. Senator Cameron said he was meeting with the Super Fund CEOs to press this point with them.

Senator Cameron confirmed that a Labor Government would have a housing and homelessness Minister probably reporting to an infrastructure minister or the Treasurer. They will re-establish a National Housing Supply Council and ensure that the Not for Profit sector has a voice.

CHIA NSW acknowledges that the current government has set the ball rolling with the introduction of the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (the NHFIC). What we need now is a long term investment to address the shortfalls in social (and affordable) housing illustrated in the AHURI report mentioned above. To do this we need all sides of government to commit to a long term funding program.

The AGM also saw Michael Lennon, Chair of CHIA, set out the new CHIA National Pan which has four main goals and we would say a blue print for a government strategy:

  1. enough housing to meet Australia’s needs
  2. housing that is affordable for renters and home-buyers on low to moderate incomes
  3. a national housing market that is efficient
  4. a diverse housing profile that suits people at different stages of life.

The CHIA National Plan Plan can be found here.

The Good Growth Alliance Launches

On a windy Sydney morning CHIA NSW joined the Property Council, Homelessness NSW, the Committee for Sydney, Shelter NSW and the Sydney Business Chamber to launch its 10 Proposals for a better Sydney and a stronger NSW.

With expert (and pro bono) facilitation from Elton Consulting the somewhat diverse band was able to reach consensus on a range of proposals to support ‘good growth’. In this scenario the benefits that come from growth and development are spread to all sectors of the community.

They include building on the Government’s current initiatives, notably the 30 minute city concept, directly engaging communities in the decisions that are made and addressing where infrastructure isn’t keeping pace with demand. Developing an evidence based and funded strategy to deliver sufficient housing of the right type and price points across the State is critical.

The alliance will continue to collaborate on prosecuting these proposals – read the them here

SHMT ‘goes live’ for CHL and SCCH on the south and mid north coasts of NSW

In October and November the first two community housing providers took on the management of public housing tenancies under the Social Housing Management Transfer Program (SHMT). We asked Alex Pontello and Lucy Burgmann, the people in the hot seats, to take some time out of their incredibly hectic schedules to talk to us about how it has gone.

Southern Cross Community Housing

On the 22 October Southern Cross Community Housing received over 960 transferred public housing properties in Shoalhaven and their CEO Alex Pontello, shared with us what it was like to be the first provider to take on management under the SHMT program.

What were your main challenges heading into the transfer?

We really wanted to get the transition and implementation right and spent a lot of time thinking about what the transfer would mean in terms of our service and our community. FACS was keen for us to adopt a standardised implementation plan but we knew that local planning to meet local circumstances was the right way to go. There were also a number of governance groups set up by FACS to support implementation. This stretched our staff resources and the groups didn’t seem to be very joined up, so often we had to make the links within our own service.

We were worried about some of new business areas we were entering into, in particular managing PRA and the PRA budget. Information about walk in traffic for PRA seemed to be different depending on who was spoken to. We are seeing nearly double the amount of people than was suggested by FACS and are now waiting to see how the numbers settle down in the next few weeks to understand what the longer term financial and resource impact might be.

We were worried also about how the tenants were going to react – would they sign up to the new payment arrangements for collecting CRA?  We challenged FACS around allowing us to door knock and meet all of the new tenants face to face before the transfer and this made a huge difference. We had also built some really good relationships with the local public housing community, inviting them to our 2017 Xmas party which was great success. We also offered an incentive payment of $80 which we think helped! We only had three tenants unsigned at ‘go live’.

The maintenance arrangements under the SHMT contract are also tricky and we raised lots of issues in the run up to the transfer. Our approach to working on these issues was to be tenacious, to keep working on them with government and to try to help local LAHC staff to understand the realities of running a housing business.

What parts of the transfer were easier for you?

SCCH is the only generalist community housing provider operating in the Shoalhaven and this means we are already part of the local service system. We know the other organisations in our area and have been working with them for years. There are great opportunities in relation to the service system – we now have a leadership role and can look to change what isn’t working. We want the service system in the Shoalhaven to be really productive and focused on tenant and community outcomes.

How do the staff feel?

Our staff are very happy to have finally got going. Being the first provider to go live has been a bonus as our staff really want to start fixing problems and delivering services – it’s now about what we do, not FACS, and it’s not that hard!

We also know we have to support our staff – this is significant growth for the organisation and it will take time to build tenant trust.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how does the organisation feel?

We are so pleased to be doing this – we are at a 10 on that scale! We know that this transfer will enable us to deliver the services that the community in Nowra deserves, and also we will have some leverage now to work with FACS and LAHC to develop a comprehensive future plan for the social housing portfolio in the Shoalhaven.

Community Housing Ltd.

On the mid north coast, CHL has taken on around 1,400 new tenancies under the transfer program in Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Nambucca Heads. Lucy Burgmann, CHL’s State Manager gave us an insight into what they thought the risks were going to be, what they really were, and how they dealt with them.

What was your biggest fear heading into the transfer?

Our concerns shifted over the course of the build up to transfer – we started being really worried about what tenants thought, and how they felt – we really wanted to make sure we were having the right conversations with tenants but we weren’t able to talk to them until quite late in the implementation. But our fears weren’t realised as when we did start to communicate with tenants it went really well and people had more questions for us than concerns. I think it helped that CHL was already known on the mid north coast.

The other challenge that we needed to tackle was the new areas of work we are taking on – access and demand, which we are calling housing options, and service system co-ordination. The other things like tenancy and asset management are our core business – we know how to do them but the rest is unknown territory for CHL in NSW and we really needed to think about how to get it right and to be prepared for the transition.

How did you respond to those challenges?

We responded to the challenges in a number of key ways – developing an effective staffing structure and having specific roles in that structure for managing TA and PRA. We want to be able to guide people to the right housing option, so they make the right choice for them. We decided to ‘staff this area up’ and to look to get the right people in these roles.

We also decided to resource support co-ordination really well from the outset. We started working with our service partners as early as possible and focused on gathering intelligence from them about what was happening and they thought was needed.

CHL has opened two new offices centrally located in both in Kempsey and Port Macquarie. The office in Kempsey is new for CHL and means we can offer face to face housing options services in the community which hasn’t been done before by FACS. This means a really big shift in the service offering in Kempsey which has been well received by our service partners.

Our last major challenge was being ready for the huge increase in transactional activity – we have increased by 50% in terms of tenancies in the mid north coast so our systems had to be ready and able to operate effectively – we spent a lot of time testing our systems to make sure they were fit for purpose when the transition happened

How do staff feel?

CHL staff are really excited by the transfer. We carried out really careful recruitment and are now a really big employer able to offer quite senior positions in local leadership roles – this means we can attract a good calibre of applicant and exceptional people applied for the positions.

One of the other challenges in the transition was the timing of availability for FACS staff transferring to new roles with CHL. They were not able to join us until literally the day the transfer occurred. To help manage this, all staff, including those transferring from FACS, received PRA training from CHIA NSW, and CHL in house training focused on our business systems, our values and what we mean by ‘quality customer service’, ahead of the transfer.

This approach really helped to build the relationship between old and new staff, and gave them confidence in the run up to go live and I would like to acknowledge the generosity of local FACS staff in supporting the transition.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how does the organisation feel?

We are at ‘11’ – we had two office openings attended by the community, staff and local services and we had a great time. We had smoking ceremony in Kempsey and a local Aboriginal artist helped us record our handprints for an office mural to symbolise ‘belonging’. In Port Macquarie we built a ‘green wall’ and everyone wrote messages on the pots to show that we’re ‘growing together’.

We have learnt from many projects we have done that whatever community we work with you have to do things differently based on the local community and we are just so proud of having this opportunity to play a positive part in the life of the mid north coast.

Planting new shoots in Port Macquarie and a sea of hands in Kempsey


Aboriginal Outcomes workshops – coming to you soon

New Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist Adam Hansen has this update on the Aboriginal Outcomes work and puts out an invitation re-invigorate the Aboriginal Staff network.

What a whirlwind first month or so it has been for me since I came on board as the new Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist at CHIA NSW and I have really enjoyed myself, learning very quickly about the sector and helping support the implementation of the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy in the Community Housing sector.

I have been out and about and meeting as many CHPs as I can and introducing myself and asking how I can help support CHPs to implement the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy. The first few things I have been working on are the location of Aboriginal Outcomes and Cultural Competence workshops for CHPs and their staff and consulting about the best way to re-energise the Aboriginal staff network.

Calling for Expressions of Interest to have an Aboriginal Outcomes and Cultural Competency workshop in your area

The CHPs I have spoken to about Cultural Competency training have been really positive and it’s something that CHPs really want support around and it has been really interesting and positive helping CHPs in this space.  I have one workshop likely to go ahead before Christmas.  If you would like to request a workshop in your area before Christmas or early in the New Year, please drop me a line at adamH@communityhousing.org.au .  If you can arrange a workshop with 2 or 3 CHPs in one location that would be a big help and I will be able to prioritise these sessions.

Setting the direction for Aboriginal Outcomes in the sector

On Wednesday, November the 7th a consultation meeting was held at CHIA NSW to help me consult on the Aboriginal Outcomes work plan and I am really appreciative of everyone who contributed to my work plan. FACS, AHO, ACHIA and a selection of CHPs were represented at the consultation meeting.  The work plan had already included the following:

  • Consult with key stakeholders
  • Develop reference group
  • Schedule initial program of regional events
  • Regional Connection Workshops
  • Analyse Aboriginal satisfaction data

And participants made a number of excellent suggestions including

  • Reintroducing an Aboriginal stream at CHIA Exchange,
  • Running Virtual Classroom / webinar sessions of Aboriginal cultural competence
  • Seeking internship for Indigenous Students,
  • Supporting CHPs to recruit and retain Aboriginal staff
  • Connecting CHPs with ACHPs and re-establishing the Aboriginal Staff Network.

CHIA NSW will be working on all of these suggestions across the next year, so please get in touch if you would like more information on any of these topics.

Re-energising the Aboriginal Staff Network

The Aboriginal Staff Network will play an important role in the sector in future.  I would like to hold a catch-up event with Aboriginal staff from across the sector before the end of the year. The idea is to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from across the sector to meet up to discuss the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy and to then a lunch to finish the day off. Again, I am hoping to do this before the end of year and to make it a Christmas event and moving forward to amp this up heading into 2019.

If you or any of your staff would like to be involved in the Aboriginal Staff network, please drop me a line at adamH@communityhousing.org.au to let me know.

Solving homelessness – is part of the solution in our backyards?

This article has been provided by Wentworth Community Housing

In the absence of large pipelines of affordable or social housing we brought a group together through our cross sector Heading Home collaboration to see what ideas we could come up with in the local community to grow more affordable rental housing.

Given our region’s larger block sizes and majority private homeownership, combined with the boom in small home design, we wondered if we could grow a market of small homes which would provide a lower cost entry point into the rental market. Our exploratory question was, if we had good marketing to get to our target group and if we made it easy with an Expo – would there be interest?

The inaugural Garden Flat Expo was held on Saturday 10 November at Springwood and was a great success with a crowd of over 500 people coming through the Expo over the day. With NSW experiencing an increase of 37% in homelessness – the highest increase of any State or Territory in Australia (2016 ABS Census), the Expo aims to increase low-cost permanent rental housing across the Blue Mountains Nepean region.

Designed to be built at low cost in backyards, garden flats of around 20-25m2 provide an income for homeowners and tackle the shortage of low-cost permanent housing in our communities. Every garden flat can help with the affordable housing crisis and at the same time it can provide an income stream for homeowners.

For homeowners interested in building a garden flat, the Expo was designed as a one-stop-shop with council planners, bushfire consultants, banks and mortgage brokers and a number of builders and product suppliers. A unique aspect of the Expo was Wentworth’s offering of a limited number of incentive packages for homeowners who are willing to offer their garden flat to someone facing homelessness.

The event clearly showed there is community appetite for Garden Flats and that some homeowners are willing to be part of the solution to homelessness.  Nearly 80 people provided their contact details to stay in touch and get further information about garden flats. A survey administered on the day captured 79 responses – 81% of people rated the day very highly and 43 people are highly likely to build a garden flat with 44% of them highly likely to rent it to someone who has been homeless. A sample of the feedback from the public:

Very valuable advice for someone who wants to do something but doesn’t know where to start!

Thanks, this was a really fantastic expo with lots of great solutions to housing injustice and insecurity. Really like the staff too!

Really important project bringing community together and communities looking after themselves.

The event was organised by Wentworth Community Housing in partnership with Heading Home and support from Blue Mountains City Council and Penrith City Council.



Working with Perpetrators of DFV – toolkit now available

Our latest resource for community housing providers Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence: a toolkit to support community housing providers in NSW is now available.

The toolkit was developed by Sue Cripps and is a companion to the Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit.

Community housing providers in NSW are often at the front line dealing with the fallout of domestic and family violence. Not only do providers need to keep women experiencing family violence and their children safe, they often also have to manage the housing situation of both the victims and the perpetrators.

Launched by The Honourable Pru Goward, Minister for Social Housing and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at NSW Parliament, this is the first resource of its kind targeted to social and affordable housing landlords in Australia.

The event included a panel discussion with representatives from No To Violence, the NRLs Voice Against Violence program, Kempsey Families Inc as well as Sue Cripps toolkit author. Also present was the NSW Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jenny Aitchison.

Training is available to support the implementation of the toolkit in your organisation. Contact Catherine Tracey, Head of Learning and Development catherinet@communityhousing.org.au for more information.

We want to hear from you!

Complete the Domestic and Family Violence toolkit implementation survey, which will be used to inform the update of the toolkit.

Complete the Working with Older Tenants survey and register to attend the Working with Older Tenants consultation workshop, which will help us to understand the issues and challenges facing the sector and inform the development of a practice toolkit.

Tackling the impacts of payday lending and consumer lease providers

CHIA NSW is a member of the NSW Financial Inclusion Network (FIN) along with a range of government and non-government agencies. The aim of the Network is to work towards a more financially inclusive future for NSW and to seek a state-wide approach to financial exclusion.

Social housing tenants are one of the major groups that are impacted on by financial exclusion and one of the ways that this manifests itself is through their dependence on informal means of finance through payday lenders, consumer lease providers and unlicensed financial service providers – sometimes known as ‘fringe credit’. As community housing providers are aware, this often means they get into a cycle of debt that can be devastating.

The NSW FIN in partnership with FCAN (the Financial Counselling Association of NSW) recently submitted information to the current enquiry of the Senate Committee on Credit Financial Services. This submission set out a number of key recommendations for the enquiry, in particular that there should be a legislated cap on interest for all forms of credit, and that these types of credit providers should be removed from Centrepay.

CHIA NSW members provided input to this debate highlighting issues such as tenants applying for part 9 and part 10 debt agreements who believe they are consolidating their debts into one. Many don’t understand they have signed up to a form of insolvency and depending on whether they work or not may need to declare this to their employer.  Also when people sign up to these agreements they don’t realise that 50% of their creditors have to agree and even if they don’t agree the tenant still has to pay the fee which is usually around $1,950.

Community housing providers also commented on the impact of pay day lending where if tenants miss one payment their interest rate can increase dramatically. They pointed out that private personal budget services were not as effective as not for profit financial counselling services who don’t charge for their service and are much more effective at getting creditors to reduce, or freeze, their rates.

The NSW FIN submission can be found here and the Senate Enquiry is due to report in February 2019.

Office of Environment and Heritage Appliance Replacement Offer – important updates

You can help households vulnerable to energy bill stress by letting them know about the Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) Appliance Replacement Offer.

This offer has now reached over 28,000 households, providing discounts of 40-50% on new energy efficient fridges and TVs when replacing old inefficient models. These households are now enjoying estimated total bill savings of over $4.47 million.

Order your FREE flyers

You can order free program flyers, posters, and energy saving top tips flyers HERE.

The Marketing Toolkit

This toolkit has been updated with all the latest information you need to share with your community – including case studies and social media tiles. ACCESS IT HERE.

No customer is too remote

Delivery is now guaranteed to anywhere in NSW for a discounted fee of no more than $85. Eligible customers can apply online to have their fridge or television delivered and installed, and their old one removed and recycled.

New appliance videos now available!

Detailed videos demonstrating the features and benefits of each appliance are now available on our website. This makes it easier for households to make the right choice for their family.

Visit www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/appliance for more information.

A place to call home – Ten steps to making a home for everyone in our land

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is the latest organisation to make housing a top priority through publication of the Catholic Bishop’s Social Justice Statement for 2018/19. The Statement argues that ‘it is time for Australia to reassert the value of housing as a basic human right’ and outlines actions that all levels of government, and the Church itself, can take.

The calls for government action are entirely consistent with the community sector’s including:

  • Greater security of tenure
  • Increasing benefits such as Commonwealth Rental Assistance so they are consistent with the cost of living
  • Increasing social and community housing – though we would argue more than cooperation and planning mechanisms is needed to fix this one
  • Addressing the structural issues – such as taxes and concessions that drive up prices.

The Church is also recognising the ways its community can directly contribute to solving housing unaffordability and the Australian Catholic Housing Alliance (ACHA) has the task ‘to find ways of diverting unused or under-used Church property towards affordable housing’. The ACHA will actively support ‘dioceses considering new uses for Church property, and provides information and advice about financing and partnership models’. As the recent AHURI report on housing as infrastructure demonstrates, in many locations the cost of land can make up a significant part of the cost of delivering new housing.

Here there is an important opportunity for parishes and dioceses. As a Church we can support the vision of ACHA by promoting its work within the agencies of various dioceses and by considering how Church land, buildings and other property could be used for low-cost housing projects.  There is a vital role here for finance and property managers.

New Industry Development Strategy Projects in 2018: Improving access to industry data

CHIA NSW is starting work on two new Industry Development Strategy projects which are both focused on improving access to data about the community housing industry.

The first project is to develop a data dashboard for our website.  If you’ve ever tried to find out anything about the community housing industry in NSW, you will know that data is spread across a range of sources. Individual community housing providers include data on their operations on their websites and in annual reports, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Government Productivity Commission publish data about households and tenant satisfaction and the Registrar of Community Housing (NSW) reports data about property assets.

This project will take the data from these disparate sources and create a data dashboard for the industry, presenting data in a compelling and interactive way through the CHIA NSW site.

The second project will develop additional, industry relevant value for money indicators.  Demonstrating value for money and making genuine robust comparisons between different parts of the social housing system has been a longstanding challenge for our industry.

This project will build on AHURI’s cost effectiveness work and the data presented in House Keys.  It will develop an enhanced suite of indicators that are regarded as priorities by the sector and are not currently collected.  Improved value for money indicators will help the industry to measure efficiency and effectiveness consistently, bringing data about tenant satisfaction, outcomes and costs.

Both of these projects are due to be delivered by 30 June 2019.  If you are interested in either of the projects and would like to be involved, or would just like more information please contact Adam West (adamw@communityhousing.org.au) or Tom Kehoe (tomk@communityhousing.org.au).

In the Media

‘Sydney’s not full’: Alliance formed to combat anti-population push -26 November, 2018

MEDIA RELEASE: Good Growth Alliance: A Better Sydney and Stronger NSW

Sydney’s peak industry bodies and NGO leaders have joined forces to promote the benefits of well-planned growth in Sydney and wider NSW.

The Property Council, the Committee for Sydney and the Sydney Business Chamber together with the Community Housing Industry Association of NSW, Homelessness NSW and Shelter NSW have formed the Good Growth Alliance.
The Alliance has written an open letter to the NSW Premier and NSW Leader of the Opposition to call for a sustainable plan for growth in Sydney, based on transparent, consistent and evidence-based decision-making by political parties, local government and urban planners.

The Good Growth Alliance has ten proposals which it believes will create a better Sydney and a stronger NSW.
This includes holding a Good Growth Summit within 100 days of the 2019 NSW Election, so communities, industry and government can collaborate more strongly on making Sydney a sustainable, liveable global city by 2050.
The nine other points include:

  1. Boosting housing and driving a renewed policy focus by developing an evidence-based NSW Housing Strategy and funded action plan to increase the supply of social, affordable, key worker and ‘at market’ housing including build-to-rent.
  2. Taking the lead on housing issues by appointing a Minister for Housing to deliver the NSW Housing Strategy and establish a multi-sector advisory council.
  3. Delivering at least 5000 additional social housing dwellings per year for the next 10 years by introducing a Capital Growth Fund to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.
  4. Reducing homelessness by committing to an action plan that addresses the key causes of homelessness with the goal of ending homelessness in NSW by 2028.
  5. Planning for growth and equity by ensuring new communities have the same access to public transport, employment, education and community infrastructure as established communities.
  6. Supporting better innovation and design in housing by establishing a housing innovation fund and investigate regulatory barriers to delivering innovative models and design options that improve energy efficiency and reduce the cost of living.
  7. Delivering a 30-minute city by identifying existing and new public transport corridors and station precincts that can accommodate the needs and aspirations of existing communities and support the development of compact residential, commercial, community, education and health hubs.
  8. Inspiring community and industry confidence in the planning system by introducing enforceable key performance indicators for Development Approvals at a local and state level.
  9. Conducting an inquiry into the current funding for social and economic infrastructure in growing communities, including developer contributions, with the aim of providing industry and community greater certainty and consistency.


Community Housing Industry Association NSW CEO Wendy Hayhurst said development in Sydney needed to work for everyone.

“Cities change and grow constantly and what we want to do is make sure the changes are positive – that existing residents aren’t pushed out, that new buildings add to the neighbourhood’s attractions, and that transport and community infrastructure is delivered.

“By 2020, the community housing sector in NSW will deliver 2700 homes across the state, which is almost $1 billion in investment in local communities, however, it’s not anywhere near enough if we are to make a difference to the many people throughout NSW who are paying too much of their income on housing costs,” Ms Hayhurst said.

Shelter NSW CEO Karen Walsh said the Alliance brought together the hearts and minds of those who cared about the future of Sydney and broader NSW.

“We need to ensure density means high quality, inclusive housing that is affordable for people on lower incomes. We are committed to a growing Sydney that is equitable, accessible, affordable, vibrant and inclusive. Sydney’s growth presents an opportunity for us to create a world class city – and that’s not just by how it looks, but how it feels and how well we live in it,” she said.

Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan said: “From 2011 – 2016 homelessness in Sydney increased by 48 per cent compared to 14 per cent nationally despite significant economic growth. We need to ask ourselves what kind of city we want Sydney to be and make a commitment to ensure that we can provide safe, appropriate and affordable housing particularly to the most disadvantaged,” she said.

Property Council NSW Executive Director Jane Fitzgerald said: “The choice in Sydney and NSW is not between growth and no growth, the only choice we have is between good growth and bad growth; Our organisations believe in changing the public conversation about our State’s future to one about good growth that is sustainable, equitable and liveable and are calling on all political parties to adopt policy positions that ensure this happens,” she said.

Committee for Sydney Acting CEO Eamon Waterford said: “The fact that so many people want to live and work in our city reflects how great Sydney is. They are attracted by our buoyant economy, great lifestyle and great career opportunities. But growth must be planned for to ensure that our city continues to function effectively as it increases in size.

That means ensuring that areas of growth have the right infrastructure and that growing communities are given additional investment. Growth can also help to make Sydney a fair place to live, by improving access to social and affordable housing and creating more job opportunities. Our choice is not Growth or No Growth but Bad Growth or Good Growth. We are delighted to partner with the Alliance to promote Good Growth,” he said.

Sydney Business Chamber Executive Director Patricia Forsythe said all sectors needed to work with government to ensure housing was accessible for all.

“When we think about Sydney’s future, efficient planning regulations and a diverse mix of housing is critical to the city’s success and collaboration between housing organisations, business and government is key,” Mrs Forsythe said.

Media Contact: Jenny Stokes: 0478 504 280

Download PDF Good Growth Alliance A Better Sydney and Stronger NSW

Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence – a toolkit to support community housing providers

Our latest resource for community housing providers Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence: a toolkit to support community housing providers in NSW is now available.

Community housing providers in NSW are often at the front line dealing with the fallout of domestic and family violence. Not only do they need to keep women experiencing family violence and their children safe, they often also have to manage the housing situation of both the victims and the perpetrators.

Launched by The Honourable Pru Goward, Minister for Social Housing and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, this is the first resource of its kind targeted to social and affordable housing landlords in Australia.

The Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit was developed by Sue Cripps and is a companion to the Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit.

MEDIA RELEASE: Large scale investment in housing infrastructure will address single biggest cost of living for NSW households

A landmark housing study released today shows NSW needs 212,000 new social housing properties over the next 20 years to meet the current shortfall and meet the needs of people in housing stress as the economy the state’s economy and population grows.

The AHURI study by RMIT and UNSW researchers shows that NSW accounts for 30% of social housing need in Australia, with 141,000 new properties needed in Sydney, and 72,000 in regional NSW by 2036 to address the current shortage and meet the future needs of people who are homeless and, renters on very low incomes who are paying more than 30% of their earnings on housing costs.

According to the needs analysis Sydney has a shortage of 80,000 social housing properties, with a 10,000 shortfall in the Parramatta area alone.  In the rest of NSW there is a shortage of 56,000 social housing properties.

CHIA NSW CEO, Wendy Hayhurst, said the AHURI report showed the investment needed in housing infrastructure to alleviate the single biggest cost of living expense for many people in NSW.

“The state has a thriving economy and we need to make sure that the growth that flows from this includes everyone in NSW,” Ms Hayhurst said.

“We need to invest in good growth and that means recognising that housing, like schools, hospitals, roads or rail is a part of the critical infrastructure that is vital to creating liveable and sustainable towns, cities and communities.

“The AHURI report shows us what we need to do to ensure our lower income earners, whether they are childcare workers, looking after older people, hospital cleaners or households earning a minimum wage, have a safe, secure and affordable roof over their head.

“Yes it comes with what seems a hefty price tag – as does any infrastructure but we will reap the social and economic dividends downstream and let’s face it NSW isn’t without the resources to put into this.

“AHURI has said the most cost effective way forward is through capital grants to community housing providers, either through access to land and/or capital funding, alongside the availability of cheaper finance through the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) the Federal government has already established.

“Of course it isn’t just the state government’s responsibility, every level of government must step up. Continuing to do nothing isn’t an option if we want to see NSW continue to thrive.

The full study is at https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/306

Social housing need in Sydney (rounded to nearest 000)

Sydney suburbs Shortfall 2017 Additional to 2036 Number of social housing homes needed by 2036
Central Coast 7,200 4,400 11,500
Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury 1,300 600 1,900
Blacktown 5,300 5,200 10,500
City and Inner South 6,100 6,600 12,700
Eastern Suburbs 3,100 2,800 5,900
Inner South West 13,000 9,200 22,100
Inner West 4,800 3,100 7,900
North Sydney and Hornsby 3,800 2,300 6,100
Northern Beaches 1,800 1,300 3,100
Outer South West 3,700 3,700 7,400
Outer West and Blue Mountains 5,000 3,600 8,600
Parramatta 10,600 8,000 18,700
Ryde 2,300 1,700 4,000
South West12 10,000 7,200 17,200
Sutherland 1,600 1,400 3,000
Total 80,000 61,000 141,000


Social Housing need – regional NSW follows

Suburbs Shortfall 2017 Additional to 2036 Number of social housing homes needed by 2036
Capital Region 4,000 1,100 5,100
Central West 4,100 1,200 5,300
Coffs Harbour Grafton 3,800 900 4,700
Far West and Orana 2,200 800 3,000
Hunter Valley 5,800 1,500 7,300
Illawarra 5,000 2,000 6,900
Mid North Coast 5,900 1,400 7,300
Murray 2,500 600 3,100
New England and North West 4,300 1,200 5,500
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 6,300 2,200 8,500
Richmond Tweed 6,500 1,500 7,900
Riverina 2,900 800 3,700
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 2,900 800 3,700
Total 56,000 16,000 72,000

Download PDF: Large scale investment in housing infrastructure will address single biggest cost of living for NSW households

Housing Matters – October 2018

CEO Report

This issue has been put together after a week that started with an immersion in the day to day practical realities of running services in Broken Hill and Dubbo. We were welcomed by CHIA and ACHIA members – Compass Housing, Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation (MPRHC), Multi-Purpose Allira Gathering Association and Midlachlan Aboriginal Housing Management Cooperative. In this issue, we feature MPRHC. In the next issue we intend to feature the Compass 123 Community Hub – the base on Creedon Street, Broken Hill from which health, educational and recreational services are provided.

Our visit to Dubbo took in the very multi-purpose Allira who run childcare, aged care services and a vaccination program from their lively offices just outside Dubbo CBD. Allira are registered in the National Community Housing Regulatory System – one of the first Aboriginal organisations to achieve this status and recently took on management of seven new AHO homes in Orange and Dubbo. Our visit also took in a downpour that caught more famous visitors and explained why every second person seemed to wearing a tiara. Stuck at Dubbo airport with half of Australia’s press corps ought to have been the perfect opportunity to get some coverage for regional and remote housing, but sadly no one seemed interested in anything but individual stories of the great day.

Coming back to Sydney, we zoomed out to focus on housing system issues at a University of Sydney (and Henry Halloran Trust) forum ‘Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing’ which brought together academics, the Reserve Bank, NSW Government officials from Planning, Treasury, DPC and the GSC with CHIA NSW and Shelter NSW to hear Josh Ryan Collins, Head of Research at the University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.  Josh’s talk focused on the genesis of the current housing affordability crisis in the early 21st century when the house price to income ratio index soared in many advanced economies. At least until 2015, Australia was ‘winning’.

Josh took us behind the headlines to consider land and its contribution to rising house prices (massive compared to construction price rises). We then had a crash course on (1) economists’ variable treatment of land and recent tendency to view its role as akin to capital; (2) its attractiveness as collateral (3) and how, in combination with lots of cheap credit and favourable tax settings, this had combined to direct lending increasingly towards real estate. Apart from the housing affordability issues we grapple with, Josh emphasised the impact on lending for more productive activities – with outstanding mortgage credit now circa 70% of GDP as opposed to non- mortgage credit at circa 45%. The point being that the issue of housing affordability isn’t just one suffered by individuals but will have consequences for Australia’s economic health too.

While it all seems far removed from the organisations we met with earlier this week and their immediate concerns, the system remedies that Josh spoke about, such as land policy and financial reform, are necessary alongside more social and affordable housing supply to make a real difference.

Let’s end on a positive note. The ACT transitioned to a land tax without imploding. And in their recently completed AHURI inquiry on tax policy, UTAS also provided governments with a roadmap for transitioning.  Read more on that

If you want to read Josh’s full argument, his new book ‘Why Can’t You Afford a Home’ (Polity Press, 2018) will be released in Australia in November 2018.

Going Out West – Murdi Paaki

Back in the days when I worked on the front line as a housing officer in London, the furthest I ever needed to walk to visit one of our tenants was around 500m. Our office was slap bang in the middle of the estate, 200m from the tube and a short hop to Brixton; the location of most of the (admittedly overworked) social, benefit and support services anyone might need. So a visit to Broken Hill was always going to teach me something. The first lesson being to check the weather forecast and avoid travelling on dust storm days.

Paula Coghill, CHIA NSW’s Aboriginal Specialist, and I wanted to meet some of our members in their own territory. We were welcomed by Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation’s (MPRHC) Paul Kemp and Kylie Martyn, who provided us with an enlightening, instructive, and positive day.

Working out of Broken Hill, the 330 homes they own and/or manage are scattered across their big geography. Put into housing speak, that can be six hours to tribunal. Imagine organising 24-hour repair services, let alone finding a safe place for someone who needs to escape domestic and family violence or providing a service to help someone needing mental health support.

Unsurprisingly, affordable housing takes on a different meaning for MPRHC especially when their tenants live outside the ‘major’ hubs. Take Wilcannia, a two hour drive from Broken Hill, where the bill from food shopping will probably be well over twice as expensive as in town. Add to this higher energy and water bills and transport costs – with many households reliant on a car that may have seen better days – and finding the rent won’t be easy even on a usual routine week.

What makes the story positive is that no one is throwing their arms up in despair; instead, they’re rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in. Their first initiative, which we have mentioned previously, is the Tenant Support and Education Project (TSEP). MPRHC has been part of a consortium with Midlachlan Aboriginal Housing Management Cooperative, and Coonamble LALC to deliver tenant education and support services. The services focus on water and energy usage as well as rent advice. Attendance at the remote workshops are large – 65 turned up to Wilcannia and the results speak for themselves, with many tenants reporting large reductions in energy bills and rent collection rates going up to by around 96-98%.

Although it’s not just about special services but routine housing management practice – including setting clear expectations on rent and following up in a fair and firm way. Understanding community and being respected is critical. They also know what they want to work on – housing education for young people before they leave home; perhaps delivered at school, getting in more support services and tackling DFV.

It can still be a challenge where properties aren’t up to scratch. Some don’t have the most up to date energy efficient systems (or still rely on wood burning stoves where wood isn’t exactly in abundance) and people rely on cheap fan heaters in winter and repair services delivered by contractors based many kilometres away that aren’t always providing a satisfactory service. Paul also gave us one example that summed up the remote issue for me – the program that replaced light fittings with ones that required bulbs which were only available from shops a plane ride away. Getting properties adapted for people with disabilities is also difficult.

Again there are answers, if not all the funding yet. Where they have control, MPRHC use local firms, encourage local apprenticeships and report higher satisfaction. They are also well on the way to producing a comprehensive asset management plan. MPRHC are also part of the Housing Consortium working through the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly to deliver appropriate housing for Aboriginal communities in the region.

Interview with Bridge Housing’s Helen Tighe on the Social Housing Management Transfer Process (SHMT)

This month Housing Matters spoke to Helen Tighe, the acting General Manager, Operations at Bridge Housing about their experience to date of the Social Housing Management Transfer process.

The SHMT is the largest scale program transferring management of public housing to community housing providers that NSW has ever undertaken. From October 2018 to September 2019, management of 14,000 public housing properties across 35 local government areas will transfer to 10 community housing providers.

Bridge Housing, in partnership with the Women’s Housing Company, will be taking over management of 1200 properties in the Northern Beaches and Mosman. Housing Matters asked Helen when Bridge Housing’s go live date was and she told us 5 August 2019, “Being one of the last providers to go live does give us the opportunity to learn from the experiences of all the other providers going before us, which is probably a bit of an advantage.”

Taking on a coordinating role with other local services is a key part of the management transfer process. In North Sydney, there are three packages and four providers (Bridge Housing & Women’s Housing Company, Linking Housing and SGCH) which will be taking on management of all the social housing in the North Sydney area. The four providers are jointly developing a service system coordination plan which will be the framework for forming, building and strengthening relationships with local communities and services.

Bridge Housing is sure that it can deliver for its new tenants; “We are very confident that we have an operating model that we can transfer to our new office in the Northern Beaches” Helen says. “It will be really important for us to establish the Bridge Housing culture in this location, we are making commitments to our new tenants about what they can expect from us as an organisation and delivering on this will be about our ability to embed our culture”.

Helen also spoke about Bridge Housing and the Women’s Housing Company’s soft engagement with tenants in the Northern Beaches. They have held 4 of 5 planned events so far. All the events have been very well attended and have been positively received by people. “Obviously there is some anxiety there”, says Helen, “this is a big thing for a lot of people, particularly for some of the older tenants. They have seen Millers Point and are concerned about their homes, but once we have reassured them that we are not there to sell their homes, they have been really positive about the change. I think it’s been really good for them to meet us face to face and to be able to talk about their issues.”

Helen was positive about how Bridge Housing had been working with FACS and the Land and Housing Corporation to prepare for the transfer. “This is a huge undertaking for all parties”, Helen told us, “but I think we have entered into it in good faith. We’ve tried to find a way of working that works for everyone and most importantly I think we are being listened to”.

Royal Commission into Aged Care: ageing without a home

CHIA NSW attended a Diversity Roundtable consultation held as part of the development of the Terms of Reference for the recently announced Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. CHIA NSW called for increased consideration of the care, support and housing needs of homeless older people and those who don’t own a home.

The 2017 NSW Ageing on the Edge Report highlighted a major rise in the number of older people renting in the private market. High rents, insecurity and limited accessibility mean that the private rental market is unsuitable for older renters, placing them at risk of homelessness.

The rising number of homeless older people and older people at risk of homelessness is a major conundrum for the aged care system, which assumes home ownership. A fixed address is a requirement for access to home care services and residential aged care facilities generally require the upfront payment of a bond in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While there are concessional places available for older people who don’t have the capital to pay a bond, these are tightly rationed which in turn limits the choice of facilities.

In an increasingly user-pays aged care system, older people who don’t own a home have a limited capacity to access the care and support they need, which is a major human rights issue. One way of addressing this is to transition away from user-pays to a universal needs-based model much like our health care system. At the same time, there is a need to significantly increase the supply of social housing to cater for an ageing population and declining rates of home ownership.

CHIA NSW will be watching as the Royal Commission unfolds, looking for opportunities to advocate for the needs of homeless older people and those who don’t own a home.

Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit

The Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit has been developed by CHIA NSW to give community housing providers a resource specifically designed to help them work with tenants with complex needs to sustain their tenancies.  The toolkit provides both a framework for understanding what it means to house people with complex needs, but also what is considered to be contemporary best practice in responding to those needs as a social housing manager. To support community housing providers to review their sustainable tenancies practice, an implementation strategy has been developed that includes a ½ day management implementation workshop and a one-day training workshop. The management implementation workshop explores information, tools and resources in the toolkit and enables housing management staff to reflect on their current practice and identify opportunities to further strengthen practice. The one-day training workshop is designed to expose all staff employed by a community housing provider to contemporary good practice in working with tenants with complex needs and provide opportunity for staff to explore how they might build their tenancy sustainment practice.

Housing Trust is the first community housing provider to take up implementation support. Amanda Winks, the Chief Housing Officer Customer Service and Support at the Housing Trust shares the following:

“Housing Trust has an ongoing focus on sustaining tenancies and working closely with tenants to identify and support complex needs. Housing Trust has a dedicated Community Support Worker and sees the Sustaining Tenancies Toolkit as a practical way to assist with improving policies, procedures and tenant communications focused on tenancy sustainment. Housing Trust has committed to implementing the Toolkit as part of our annual team plan. Housing Trust is committed to early intervention and has already implemented the use of the Home Visit Risk Assessment. We are committed to the ongoing implementation of the vulnerability assessment tool and tenancy response plan as tools to assist with supporting tenancies through a consistent approach. Housing Trust has recently undertaken the half day management workshop and full day team training with Sue Cripps with extremely positive feedback and high engagement amongst the team.”

Southern Cross Students Complete Part 1 of their Certificate IV in Social Housing

Southern Cross Housing enrolled 10 students in the Certificate IV in Social Housing from across all areas of the organisation. All students were enrolled in the Smart and Skilled Part Qualification Program and they have achieved a land mark 100% completion rate. They are all on track to complete the qualification by the beginning of next year.
This has been made possible by the wonderful support provided by the management of Southern Cross Housing in encouraging and supporting students in their studies.

Centre for Training in Social Housing (CTSH) new one day seminar “Introduction to social housing for new workers”

CTSH has launched a new one day seminar “Introduction to social housing for new workers” for new entrants into the industry. With so much change and new staff commencing in the community housing sector it was seen as essential to give new starters an understanding of their industry. This session will outline the social, political and economic development of social and community housing in Australia and in particular NSW. It will explore the issues which may affect your clients and the current factors affecting the provision of housing. The first workshop is being held on the 14th November in the Training Room at CHIA NSW.

If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au


Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities Congress event

It’s just one week until the Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities Congress in Newcastle.

The congress features a packed program and there is something for everyone with eighteen strands and four plenary sessions covering urban renewal, sustainability, ethical cities, economic development and everything in between. Register here.

Award-winning sustainability program helps residents and the environment- Evolve Housing

For many Evolve Housing residents, the choice between putting food on the table or heating the home in winter is a very real one.

To counter this challenge, Evolve Housing has created the Evolving Green – Energy Action Initiative to reduce power prices for disadvantaged and low-income residents while also helping the environment.

Evolving Green was launched in May 2017, and as the result of careful planning, has made impressive progress against its targets in just over a year.

It was recently recognised with the Parramatta Light Rail Excellence in Sustainability award at the Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence, and the project was shortlisted as a finalist for Sustainability Program of the Year in the Optus My Business Awards.

Its three main objectives are to reduce energy poverty and inequality, reduce carbon emissions and drive down operating costs of common areas and the corporate office.

Initiatives include replacing inefficient systems, installing solar PV systems and panels, upgrading lighting in common areas, no interest loans for residents to replace appliances, government subsidies for energy efficient washing machines and TVs.

Beyond assisting our residents to access energy efficient assets, Evolve Housing is also offering free workshops on saving energy in the home and has partnered with Energy Locals to secure fairer electricity deals for tenants.

These developments will deliver savings of $1.94m over the next ten years, which amounts to 745, 000 kWh of energy and a potential saving of $594, 000 or up to $859 per household to Evolve Housing residents. To understand how the Energy Action Initiative has a positive effect on the environment, this equates to removing 217 cars off the road a year.

The savings to our residents will make a huge impact on their quality of life, and allow them to both take pride in choosing sustainable energy and keep more money in their pockets.

“Earning low incomes makes our residents extremely vulnerable to energy price rises and often residents will go without heating or cooling to balance their budgets,” Evolve Housing CEO Andrea Galloway said.

“The savings our residents make on power bills can be spent on basics like food, transport or other bills.

“The quality of life and health benefits that it delivers can’t be understated especially in western Sydney where the weather can be extreme”.


Evolve Housing appoints John Nesbitt to its Board of Directors

Evolve Housing, a leading community housing provider, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Nesbitt as a Non-Executive Director of the Company. John Nesbitt is a Non-Executive Director with more than 40 years’ experience across a number of sectors including investment management, banking, insurance, property, construction and infrastructure.

He officially joined the Board of Directors of Evolve on 16 October 2018, and will draw on his vast professional experience in the financial services industry to chair the Board’s Finance, Risk and Audit Committee.

2018 NSW Business Chamber State Business Awards Finalists Announced

Congratulations to our members who are State finalists for the 2018 NSW Business Chamber Business Awards!

The NSW Business Awards celebrates business excellence in entrepreneurship, innovation, export, business growth, sustainability and employment practices. The State Finalists represent the category winners from 16 regions across NSW.

CHP nominees are as follows:

Outstanding Business Leader: Charles Northcote, BlueCHP,

Excellence in Innovation: Compass Housing Services, BlueCHP

Excellence in Sustainability: Evolve Housing

Excellence in Social Enterprise: Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, Central Coast, BlueCHP

Winners will be announced at the NSW Business Awards Gala dinner on Friday 23 November 2018 at Luna Park, Sydney.

OTCP and TSA now trading as Momentum Collective

Momentum Collective is the new trading name for On Track Community Programs (OTCP), Casino Neighbourhood Centre and more recently Third Sector Australia (3SA). CEO Karen Murphy says ‘while our trading name is new, our ABN and business name remain unchanged as Third Sector Australia Limited’.

You can contact Momentum Collective for more information on info@mymomentum.org.au or 1300 900 091. You can also visit the new website: www.mymomentum.org.au

New Staff Announcement

Introducing Adam Hansen – CHIA NSW’s new Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist

I am really excited and looking forward to working for CHIA NSW as the Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist and applying my skillset to further support positive outcomes in the Community Housing sector.

The main focus will be consulting with our members and providing support and facilitation to deliver the Aboriginal Outcomes strategy.  This will include supporting members around the Cultural Competence space and up skilling organisations to provide further assistance to Indigenous people, families and communities and to help Community Housing Providers to engage in building stronger relationships with local Aboriginal communities, tenants and organisations.

I am really excited to get started and feel very privileged to be in this position to help continue the positive work that CHIA NSW has already achieved, and I am hoping to add to the excellent work already done.

I am a proud Noongar man from Bunbury Western Australia but have lived and grown up in Sydney and call the Inner West of Sydney home. I studied a Bachelor of Human Movement with a Diploma of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney and graduated in 2011 and I am currently studying a Masters in Indigenous Education. I value the power of education and I have spent a large amount of time empowering young people to fulfill their potential when it comes to education through the power of mentoring.

Having spent 8 years at not-for-profit organisation working in between High Schools and Universities to help support Indigenous high school students and to help increase the University Admission rates among Indigenous students. I am a passionate and committed individual with a background working with in the community sector with a specific experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The past year or so, I have been working for myself as a consultant with the focus being on Cultural Competence and best practices when and how to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. I have had the pleasure working with the University of Sydney in the Wingara Mura Team and in the Widening Participation and Outreach Team helping both teams to support their staff in Cultural Competence and facilitating a suite of workshops that allow their staff to better understand Indigenous culture, people and communities.

Watch this space, and please get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions about how I can support your organisation: adamh@communityhousing.org.au

Save the date: Everybody’s Home Town Hall Assembly – 14 March 2019

The Everybody’s Home campaign is partnering with the Sydney Alliance to hold a Town Hall Assembly in support of affordable housing. This action will bring together thousands of people and organisations to show our political leaders and policy makers that together we have solutions to Australia’s housing affordability problems.

More details to come, but in the meantime you can register your interest in attending the Assembly, which will be held 6.30pm 14 March 2019 at Sydney Town Hall.

Don’t forget to sign up to the Everybody’s Home campaign and ask your organisation to join as a campaign partner.


MEDIA RELEASE: Grattan report shows NSW needs urgent housing action

The state’s strong budget outlook is a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in social and affordable housing to support the thousands of people in NSW struggling with rental stress and homelessness, the state’s not-for-profit housing sector said today.

A Grattan Institute report released today shows NSW has the strongest budget in Australia but the lowest rates of social housing and the highest rates of rental stress and increasing homelessness.

According to the report, NSW has experienced the sharpest decline in social housing levels over the past five years.

The number of low income households (households in the bottom 40% of income earners) experiencing rental stress has increased by 10 per cent, with 1 in 2 low income households in NSW now in rental stress.

Homelessness rates have also increased by 10 .7% – again the highest in the country.

CHIA NSW CEO Wendy Hayhurst said with the state’s budget surplus based largely on rising house prices NSW must urgently commit to investing in policies and programs for families left behind by the boom.

“NSW needs 12,500 social and affordable homes a year to fill the shortfall we have now and meet the needs of our growing population, which is vital if we are to support people in housing stress now and avoid increasing housing unaffordability even further down the track for our children,” Ms Hayhurst said.

“Today’s report also shows once again that we have money here in NSW to invest in housing that market mechanisms can’t provide.

“Real estate prices in Sydney have dropped slightly, but whether a house is 12 or 11 times the average income is immaterial when you’re a renter struggling just to keep a roof over your head and your income hasn’t gone up. Getting together a deposit in these circumstances is nigh impossible.

“The NSW government has some good programs in place but they won’t fill the gap.

“We need investment and planning reforms in NSW to encourage more the growth of not-for-profit social and affordable housing in local communities across NSW and secure future economic growth. Today’s report shows we have the surplus and the money to do it, we just need the will.

“We’re also hoping this report encourages the NSW government to release its Social Housing Strategy as soon as possible.”

Download PDF: Grattan report shows NSW needs urgent housing action

Housing Matters – September 2018

CEO Report

There’s enough evidence to demonstrate Australia needs much more social and affordable housing but insufficient to convince the state and commonwealth governments to fund the numbers to make an inroad into the massive shortfall.

This month Ilan Wiesel and colleagues took a look at how the Australian housing boom had impacted on inequality. In their article they built on the recent Productivity Commission research into inequality to also consider housing costs. Once mortgage and rent costs are considered the increases in household’s disposable incomes between 1988 and 2015 is ‘30% in the lowest decile compared with 81% in the highest decile’. This is explained by housing costs accounting for a greater proportion of lower income households’ spending also exacerbated by disproportionate increases in rents at the lower end of the market. Higher income households – often home buyers, have at the same time benefited from lower interest rates and hence cheaper mortgages.

Housing has also contributed to rising wealth inequality with lower income households seeing ‘little or no wealth gains from housing’ in contrast to the upper deciles who experienced annual rises of circa 3% in their wealth.

There is a general acceptance that too much inequality is bad news – both for individuals but countries as a whole. As the not exactly radical OECD said in its report on inequality “econometric analysis suggests that income inequality has a sizeable and statistically significant negative impact on growth.”

So it makes big sense to do something about housing not just to ease the passage into home ownership but also to ensure a good supply of affordable rental homes for the many households who are unable to purchase in the near future.

While we look to the state and commonwealth government to do the heavy lifting, this month saw some Councils taking the initiative including City of Sydney, where Council are proposing to extend the current affordable housing contribution schemes operating to other land including Central Sydney – see here.

On the Central Coast the Council has just put its affordable housing strategy on exhibition. Amongst its 28 recommendations are the following:

  • Using Council land for social and affordable housing in partnership with registered community housing providers
  • Actively promote new generation boarding housing in appropriate locations
  • Developing a voluntary planning agreement policy

And we should also acknowledge the latest Communities Plus opportunity released in early September to provide circa 60 social, affordable and market homes on Crown Street, Wollongong – see here.

Industry Development Powering On

There are several industry development projects underway at CHIA NSW. These projects are funded by FACS under the NSW Community Housing Industry Development Strategy (IDS) and focus on building the capacity of both community housing providers and also the infrastructure needed to support the community housing system in NSW.

The Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit has been finalised and we are hoping to launch it to coincide with the White Ribbon 16 Days of Activism. We know that a number of our members have either received accreditation from White Ribbon or are in the process of doing so and we really want to continue to help the industry to tackle this incredibly important issue.

The Financial Inclusion: effectively preventing and managing rent arrears project will soon come to an end with the final report and resources due for publication in the next couple of months. Thanks to all of the providers that opened their doors to me to talk all things rent – I found it riveting and as always to hear what providers are doing and whilst there is a lot of great practice out there the report will throw down the gauntlet to our members to have a rethink about how they are managing the issue of rent and debt, particularly as our sector grows and costs for tenants keep rising.

Tom Kehoe has started the Improving Responses to Antisocial Behaviour Project. On 27 September, Tom is hosting a consultation workshop with community housing providers to capture issues, challenges and solutions. What we hear at this workshop will help shape a toolkit which will give practical resources to community housing providers managing antisocial behaviour. The project will be completed in December 2018.

We also have been approved for five new projects in 2018/19 including one designed to give our members guidance and resources to help address the growing issues associated with managing a tenant population that is ageing, and one that will trial improving housing pathways for people leaving prison in two regional Social Housing management Transfer locations.

Adam West will be leading Stage 2 of the Technology Mapping Project, on making even more industry information available to members through the development of a data dashboard, and on developing value for money indicators – critical to ensure we can continue to argue about the effectiveness of our industry. Wendy will lead on designing a framework for revitalising the National Community Housing Standards, our way of demonstrating the commitment the sector will make to achieving high service and property standards in return for the investment made in social and affordable housing.

If you want to know more about any of these projects or want to see how you could be involved please get in touch with us and we look forward to keeping you updated.


CHPs, Landcom and NHFIC – cooking up affordable housing?

Early one cold bright morning in late August, NSW community housing non- executive directors, Landcom luminaries and one notable NHFIC representative gathered for breakfast in Martin Place to cook up some ideas for an affordable housing feast. 

First to the table was Landcom’s CEO John Brogden with his ingredients outlined in their Strategic Directions. These include targets for affordable housing on government land, some special projects, and a commitment to reduce wastage through smart commissioning. He brought out an example he had prepared earlier; one along the North West Sydney metro line at Tallawong. While the community housing industry would have preferred more affordable housing and a sell by date beyond ten years, it’s a good start.

Next up was CHIA NSW to demonstrate the not for profit community housing industry credentials as affordable housing cooks. Since 2012 providers have delivered over 1250 new homes and have at least 1500 more in the pipeline; with a total investment of circa $1 billion. They build well, involve their local communities and aim to cut the energy bills for the consumers according to our Industry Snapshot. For the industry, Landcom is a vital ingredient – just look at what happens when they share a kitchen. Evolve Housing’s Harts Landing is proof of the pudding.

Last but not least to step up was the NHFIC’s David Crawford who spoke about how his outfit could oil the wheels by offering bulk deals to reduce the costs. Low interest, long term inputs and a cast iron guarantee. They’re even offering a capacity building service for new entrants. It’s all modelled on The Housing Finance Corporation in the UK , which has been baking social and affordable housing for 30 plus years without any needing to be thrown away.

To repeat it’s a good start but we do need a bit more fat to bulk it up. A capital growth fund, tax incentives, input of government land at scale – all will help. Let’s get cooking.


CHIA NSW Exchange a Success!

Thank you to all of our members and guests who attended the September CHIA NSW Exchange. We hope you both enjoyed and took away useful information from the sessions you attended. If you would like to give feedback on event, please email brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au for a link to the feedback form.

Speaker slides from the Exchange are available here: https://goo.gl/SXCi8R

Photos are available here: https://bit.ly/2Nn3sWX. If you would like a hi res version of an image, please contact brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au

Our next CHIA exchange will be in June 2019 but there will be plenty of events in between. Watch this space.


The Connection between Domestic Violence and Homelessness


In August 2018, the National Homelessness Conference in Melbourne heard that the homelessness and affordable housing crisis is getting worse with nothing to indicate this trend will be significantly reversed. At the same time, efforts to reduce the unacceptable level of domestic violence are also struggling to have an impact. Yet as this interview with an acknowledged expert demonstrates, housing availability is a, probably the, key to reducing the ongoing exposure to abuse by victims of domestic violence.

This interview was conducted by Sue Cripps in London with Gudrun Burnet of the Peabody Trust, a large housing association in the UK, and looks at what social housing landlords can do to help reduce the impacts of domestic and family violence.

Could you tell me a little about your background and what led to your current role?

I started my career on the National Domestic Violence Helpline 15 years ago and then got a job as a domestic abuse support worker in South London where I qualified as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) which in the UK means you are qualified to work with families experiencing domestic abuse who are at significant risk of harm or death. I was then promoted to floating support coordinator across South London.

In this role it became apparent to me that housing was fundamental in all the work I was doing with families. However, I found the response I got was limited or non-existent. So, nine years ago I started working with Peabody and have supported them over the years to improve their response and identification of domestic abuse.

Peabody has been creating opportunities for Londoners since 1862, when it was established by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody. The housing charity owns and manages more than 55,000 homes, providing affordable housing for around 111,000 people. Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a major issue in Australia, which I know having recently visited as part of a Churchill Fellowship and this trip taught me that there is an amazing opportunity to share best practice across the world.

We are very interested in the innovative approach Peabody Trust has taken to help the victims and their families. Can you tell us more about the work you are doing and why it is so important?

As well as bricks and mortar, Peabody provides a wide range of community programmes in their neighbourhoods, including help with employment and training, health and wellbeing projects, family support programmes and a dedicated care and support scheme.

Peabody has shown the vital role Housing Providers can play in identifying and supporting families affected by domestic abuse. Housing providers have unique access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, through regular contact with residents carrying out services such as repairs and community development activities. Housing provider employees are trusted and accessible and are considered by many more approachable than the police or other statutory agencies.

In the UK, on average two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner. Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse: 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population). In 2008, Peabody changed our approach to domestic abuse including training, updated policies and procedures and proactively publishing our work externally and internally.

Do you have any statistics or other information about the effectiveness of the approach/model you are developing?

That is why over 3 years ago Gentoo, Peabody and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence created the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). It brings together their combined best practice and is the UK benchmark on how the housing sector can improve their response to domestic abuse. It is underpinned by 8 priorities including policy & procedure, case management, risk management, partnership working, equality & diversity, staff training and publicity for customers in the support a housing provider can offer. We were also funded in 2017 by the Home Office to create a free online toolkit which any housing provider can access here.

In addition to the toolkit we are running free workshops all over the UK to increase awareness and cover the 8 priority areas in more depth to support housing providers to attain accreditation.

At Peabody and Gentoo (two of the founding partners of DAHA), this approach has had a significant impact on reporting rates and understanding of domestic abuse and its dynamics. At Peabody, over 9 years, there has been an increase in reporting of 1,425% and we get a new case reported to us on average every 3 days. In research undertaken by Safelives, Gentoo tenants accessed support from Gentoo’s specialist team one year earlier than the national dataset (made up of specialist domestic abuse services) demonstrating the unique role that housing providers can have with their customers.

Recently we launched in partnership with Alison Inman, the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Women’s Aid the Make a Stand campaign to ask housing providers in the UK to make a pledge to implement four key activities that would make a difference to their tenants and staff which include:

  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your residents
  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your staff
  • Publish information on local and national domestic abuse services
  • Appoint someone in your organisation at a senior level to lead this.

The momentum of this now is incredible.

As with many complex issues, one of the key solutions is always collaborating effectively with support services and other partners to ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. What thoughts do you have on how this can be progressed?

The key to this is raising awareness across the world and understanding that housing providers do and can play a vital role in responding to families experiencing domestic abuse. I have trained over 50 Housing Provider’s globally and am the housing representative for the national Violence Against Women’s and Girls (VAWG) stakeholder panel hosted by the Home Office.

I am also involved in a European Project called ‘Safe At Home’ which is about disseminating training across the EU and in particular the UK and the Netherlands.

As part of my Winston Churchill Fellowship I visited Australia and was asked to be part of your launch of the toolkit via Skype which was a first for me. It is astounding the cross over and partnership work we can do across the globe and I could not be more excited that some of the tools we use here are being used in Australia.

I have also had the opportunity to speak at international conferences in Canada, USA, Czechoslovakia, Brighton, Belfast, Brussels, and The Hague about my work in housing and domestic abuse. I am a trustee of Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and was shortlisted for Red Magazine’s Pioneering Woman of the Year Award 2016.

Can you tell us what approach is being taken to support housing workers as they engage with perpetrators of DFV?

Housing providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to domestic abuse in their communities. Furthermore, through publicity and campaigns they can raise awareness of the issue to ensure communities show zero tolerance to perpetrators of domestic abuse and support and help those that need it. Housing Providers are also able to make domestic abuse a breach of tenancy to hold perpetrators to account for this heinous crime.


This interview with Gudrun demonstrates the advantages of seeking ideas and policies to manage social issues from across the globe. Unfortunately, as Australia’s homelessness and housing crisis deepens it is also possible the effects to overcome domestic violence will be significantly impacted. From an Australian perspective, our decision makers need to look more closely at the overseas experiences in taking an integrated whole-of-life solution to domestic violence and indeed many other social problems.


The Centre for Training in Social Housing has released its new accredited program

The Centre for Training in Social Housing has just released its new accredited program commencing October 2018. We are still providing training in the Certificate IV Social Housing and Diploma of Community Service with an emphasis on training in areas of high demand.  Our course, content centres on social services and community-based work that addresses a wide range of issues including mental health, domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drugs work and suicide prevention. Models of practice in case management, recovery orientated practice and strengths based approaches are demonstrated throughout all units of study.

We have expanded training options in the Diploma of Community Services to include specialisations in Case Management or Social Housing or elective units of study in Leadership and Management. We will be introducing further electives in Asset Management in 2019.

We offer professional development and contextualised training to community organisations, and we specialise in Cultural Awareness, Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs, and Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence have been in demand across the sector.

Our training is delivered by industry and training experts with specialist knowledge and skills in the community housing industry. Our trainers are all currently working in the industry, have all obtained a diploma or higher qualification in their relevant field, and have obtained a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, or higher.

We provide trainers to work one-on-one with participants who require extra assistance to ensure they understand the concepts and knowledge required. High levels of satisfaction for training and professional development are recorded below:

Figure 1: Student satisfaction with our delivery of the CHC42215 Certificate IV in Social Housing and the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services



If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au


AHURI National Housing Conference 2019

The biennial National Housing Conference is the single largest cross-sectoral event in Australasia for the social and affordable housing sectors.

AHURI will be convening the 2019 National Housing Conference in Darwin from 28-30 August 2019—the first time the conference has been held in the Northern Territory. More information about NHC 2019 will be released in the second half of 2018.

Watch this space for more information as it comes: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/events/national-housing-conference-2019


Bonnie Women’s Support Services FREE Publication

Bonnie Women’s Support Services has developed this excellent resource which features stories about a diversity of women making choices for change, and includes some helpful domestic violence support service numbers. This is a great resource for CHPs to have in their reception areas for people to pick up and read whilst they are waiting.  It would also be a good resource for CHP staff to read, if they were interested.

We highly recommend visiting the website and requesting some copies.


‘No Place Like Home’ Exhibition

Link Housing is hosting a very special Community Art Exhibition ‘No Place Like Home’ from Thursday 27 September – 26 October 2018

It is the third year of this exhibition, showcasing the talents of the most creative in our community and bringing awareness to the need for safe and affordable housing.

You can find the exhibition opening times here.


Anti-Poverty Week – 14-20 October 2018







Link Housing: new offices open for business

Link Housing has moved, with two new offices open for business as of September. Link Housing’s Social Housing Management Transfer is set to go live in December and the new offices are located in the heart of the FACS Northern Sydney District, providing good access for tenants and plenty of space for new staff.

New office details:

Level 10, 67 Albert Avenue, Chatswood 2067 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

3-5 Anthony Rd, West Ryde NSW 2114 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

New Staff Announcement

Hi, I’m Chad the new Coordinator for ACHIA, the new peak body for Aboriginal Community Housing. I have spent the last 10 years working in the community services sector working with Aboriginal families and youth.

I have experience in program development and management and worked at Muru Nanga Mai as a youth worker then went to Kari Limited where I worked in the community programs team. Then I moved to Youth Off the Streets, where my roles were Cultural Coordinator/Manager/Director Aboriginal Services for over 5 years. In that role, I worked all over NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

Some highlights in this time were establishing outreaches in Maroubra, Logan and Bourke and developing a mobile semi-trailer project through a partnership with Linfox that has the capacity to travel to remote places and set up as a portable Youth Centre with staff working from the trailer. I was also awarded 2017 Employee of the Year with Youth Off the Streets.

I’ll now be supporting the ACHIA interim committee with their work.  It’s an exciting time for the sector and we’ll be consulting widely with Aboriginal Community Housing Providers about their priorities and supporting a membership drive leading into committee elections in December.

I will be visiting different communities in the next few months to discuss the membership drive and how ACHPs can become members to show their support and to be a part of the vision ACHIA has moving forward.

If you would like to get in touch, please email me at chadr@communityhousing.org.au or call 0438 038 269

Housing WORKS August Edition

CHIA NSW are extremely pleased to be partnering with the Australasian Housing Institute to present this special edition of HousingWORKS. In addition to the usual excellent features, there is a whole section dedicated to the Everybody’s Home Affordable Housing Conference that was held at the end of June 2018. Read articles from some of the contributors and see who you can spot in the pictures.






Housing Matters – August 2018

CEO Report

I have just spent a few weeks in the UK and Sweden and in both countries there was plenty of discussion and debate about social and affordable housing. I’ve penned a few thoughts on Sweden in the article below and already mentioned Scotland and its five year strategies many times before. So to England, where the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has led to signs of a renewed focus on ways to improve landlord’s accountability to their tenants. And so it should, but as this article last week illustrates, there is a lot to do to reassure tenants that their health and safety is paramount.

Here at CHIA NSW, the Board has been debating its vision for the community housing industry. We clearly want both the Commonwealth and State governments to do more and invest big time in social and affordable housing to reduce housing stress experienced by growing numbers of Australian households – see Compass Housing’s  ‘The Affordable Housing Income Gap’ for an accessible summary of the current state of the nation.

Understandably here at CHIA NSW we believe that community housing is a big part of the solution and our aim is to see the sector grow. But equally clearly this has to be ‘good’ growth, for a clear purpose and with strong community outcomes.

Last week I read a fine piece of writing by Prof Mark Stephens  Professor of Public Policy at Heriot University riffing off the English Social Housing Green Paper  to cover in one concise article the challenges facing all providers of social and affordable housing and that paramount need to keep tenants at the heart of what we do. I recommend it to everyone.

CHIA NSW Exchange

The CHIA NSW Exchange is coming up on the 12th and 13th of September! The CHIA NSW Exchange is a sector wide opportunity that allows members from across the state to hear from industry leaders regarding sector innovation and policy updates, as well as ideas sharing and networking opportunities.  The CHIA NSW Exchange is free to any Full Member of CHIA NSW, including staff and Directors. You can register here.

National Homelessness Conference

The National Homelessness Conference, held in Melbourne, attracted more than 800 delegates from across Australia and beyond for two full days of the very latest developments and innovations to end homelessness.

Key note presentations from high profile international speakers included Professor Marah Curtis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) on the intersection between housing stability and wellbeing, Juha Kaakinen of Y-Foundation (Finland) on the housing first approach and Finland’s success in reducing homelessness, and Professor Nicholas Pleace of the University of York (UK) with a comparative analysis of housing first approaches in different jurisdictions.

A standout contribution came from our very own Aboriginal Specialist, Paula Coghill, who joined the opening plenary session to speak to the topic Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness. Homelessness did not exist in Australia before the invasion, so the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain massively overrepresented in homelessness counts is nothing short of a national travesty.

‘As First Nations people, we were the first to be homeless in this country’ said Paula  ‘and 239 years later, we’re still homeless’.

Highlighting the ongoing impact of dispossession, colonisation, displacement and violence, Paula called for self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities working to address homelessness and the widespread shortage of affordable housing. Aboriginal communities face unique challenges – from overcrowding to high rates of incarceration and the ongoing removal of children from their families. But of course, it is these communities who are best placed to implement strategies to address these challenges. And it is the responsibility of the mainstream service sector to support this self-determination.

In NSW, the homelessness service sector has formalised its commitment to reconciliation and working collaboratively and respectfully with Aboriginal people and communities through the Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness Accord.

With the elections for the first Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA) board coming up in November, we look forward to seeing more innovative policies, programs and initiatives by Aboriginal organisations, for Aboriginal people and communities.

The Australian Conference of Economists

Supply, Supply, Supply – and other stories about Australia’s housing affordability problem – a slightly irreverent synopsis of my day with the economists – Deborah Georgiou Head of Policy and Communications, CHIA NSW.

It’s always good to get out of your own bubble and listen to the views of economists! That’s what I was lucky enough to do when attending the Australian Conference of Economists in July. The issues of housing affordability were high on the agenda with speakers including the eminent Professor Rachel Ong from Curtin University, the newish kid on the block Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute and Peter Abelson from Applied Economics Pty who has a long and distinguished career advising successive governments.

The panel in the Great Debate on Housing Affordability was firmly split between those that thought that supply would fix housing affordability problems for all but the most marginalised households, and Rachel, whose early research on new supply price inelasticities indicates that we can’t just build our way out of unaffordability. She commented that there was actually enough supply and that this hadn’t improved affordability.

Brendan thought that if we had kept up with increasing demand from un-forecast higher levels of immigration house prices would have been kept in check and was firmly of the view that we needed to concentrate on increasing supply.

Peter said house prices had risen evenly across capital cities in Australia and that therefore prices were increasing as a result of national drivers. He stated there has been no increase in unaffordability as housing costs as a percentage of income have been around 20% for the last 10 years  – in his view the problem is all about the cost of a deposit and he supported first home owner grants.

In the midst of all of this my favourite session of the day was about the impact of playgrounds on property prices: evidence from Australia presented by Dr Syed Hasan, Massey University – apparently if you build homes within 300-500 metres from a pocket park it will add more than 5% to their value – economics at its best!

Cities for Us Summit

On 25 July, SSROC and Shelter NSW hosted a summit on density, local infrastructure and liveability.

The summit focused on the challenges ahead for Sydney and how, in the context of higher density living how we can think about the concepts of fairness, equity and inclusiveness.

The summit featured a wide range of speakers, and looked three key themes:

  • Implementing the GSC Plans, looking at integration, collaboration and governance
  • Funding the delivery of local infrastructure and affordable rental housing
  • Engaging with communities to help them have a say as their built environment changes

Highlights of the summit included Dr Marcus spiller talking about what could change to better fund local infrastructure and affordable housing (read more about this here) and Monica Barone talking about engaging communities in the City of Sydney.

The outcome of the summit will be a communique for the Planning Minister so watch this space.

Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women Report Launched

On 23 August 2018, the National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group delivered a paper, Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women.

The paper identifies the systemic and compounding causes of older women’s homelessness, examines the devastating impact of gendered economic inequality and the key policy areas that require attention. It outlines a national agenda to address this issue, including additional permanent social and affordable housing options for women and special measures to assist women at retirement age who have not accumulated adequate superannuation. Action is urgently needed to address the alarming 31% rise in homelessness amongst older women between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

The report goes on to call for the establishment of a Seniors Housing Gateway Program, as well as expansion of the Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) Program and better consideration of housing adequacy in national aged care policy and programs.

Women’s Housing Company CEO and National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group member, Debbie Georgopoulos, said “housing is amongst the most basic of needs; it’s essential that a national housing strategy provides the affordable, permanent housing that is essential to ageing well.”

Cracks emerging in the Scandinavian housing model

– Wendy Hayhurst, CEO , CHIA NSW.

Being a housing tragic wherever I go on holiday there’s an irresistible temptation to learn how different places tackle affordable housing. This year it was tropical Stockholm, a city that was experiencing its hottest-ever weather. This explains why we ended up passing one of the city’s municipal housing estates on the way to joining the locals at the nearest beach.  Although, like other estates we saw, it was large and rather functional-looking, it seemed well kept and was flanked by an impressive series of sports and play facilities all well-used by a multicultural crowd.  So far so Scandinavian as I had assumed the region’s long-standing reputation for decent social benefits and its relative egalitarianism would translate into an enviable affordable housing system.

So it was a bit of a shock to find stories such as the one from the BBC suggesting that Stockholm was one place ‘you would never find a home’ and another article explaining that the waiting list for apartments in the city had risen to 580,000 in July 2017 – more than doubling since 2007. Wait times averaged nearly 11 years – well over 20 in central areas. So what was the story?

For a start Stockholm needs a lot of housing to keep pace with its growing population. It is the fastest growing capital in Europe with proportionally high rates of immigration and one of the highest birth rates too. Housing supply simply hasn’t kept up but that isn’t by any means the whole story. In a fascinating article[1] Brett Christophers from Uppsala University clearly explains the post-war evolution of the Swedish housing system including the “Million Program” – the 1960s Social Democrat government housing scheme to build 100,000 new homes each year for 10 years. An extraordinary 40% of these were built by the state. Dr Christophers’s title ‘A Monstrous Hybrid’ encapsulates his theory well. In a nutshell he argues that relatively recent shifts in policy to marketise housing combined with retention of key regulatory features have served to reduce opportunities for lower income households to find good quality, stable affordable housing.  How so?

First it is important to understand a bit about Sweden’s housing tenure mix and key features. Until the 1990s the country’s housing policy was internationally renowned for its active support for ‘tenure-neutrality’ – promoting equal standards, costs, and occupier rights for renters and owners that aimed to equalize their tax benefits and social status. This started to change in 1991 when the new centre-right government began dismantling this policy and brought in market reforms triggering public housing privatisation, and privileging home ownership.

While traditional homeownership which is mainly confined to houses rather than multi-unit blocks – has remained relatively stable at circa 41% of all housing; there has been a sharp rise in tenant owned apartments – or bostadsrätt a form of coop housing since 1990 from 15% to 23% in 2016. Tenants pay a basic fee or down payment (financed via a mortgage) and an annual fee to the co-op for the right to occupy a unit indefinitely. Tenants can transfer (sell) the ‘occupancy right’ or share, via an open bid auction style sale. This tenure type benefits from same tax relief granted to owner-occupiers and increasingly involves higher income households.

Public housing has fallen back from 25% of all housing to 16% in the last 25 years.  Although owned and controlled by municipalities (Councils) it is operated by arms length public shareholder companies. Theoretically it remains available ‘for everyone’ regardless of income or other circumstance. The companies constructed homes using state loans, and received tax advantages, government guarantees and large interest subsidies.

Private rental housing – 18% in 2016 – mainly offers secure tenancies and is remains generally rent-controlled atlevels historically pegged to those charged by the municipal housing companies. Recent changes mean that rent setting is now increasingly influenced also by the general level of private sector rents – over time this may mean more a divergence in rents between the two sectors.

So what has changed? First, municipal housing company privileges  have been substantially reduced and MHCs now have to compete on a roughly equal footing with private landlords. Portfolio ageing and declining public subsidy have generated cost pressures leading to sell-offs (especially of more attractive stock) to both the co-op sector and to sitting tenants at heavily discounted prices.

Secondly, home ownership – including the co-op version – has become more financially attractive. In the 1990s access to mortgages was made easier and a credit guarantee for first-time homebuyers was introduced in 2008. Other incentives include mortgage interest tax deduction, a low ceiling on property tax, and deferred capital gains tax on primary residence.

Thirdly, housing allowances for low income households have been ‘slashed’ with a 70% reduction in households entitled and claiming these between 1995 and 2009.

A key features of the Swedish regulatory system which exacerbates problems for lower income households needing to access a tenancyis the operation of the bostadsformedlingar – the rental queuing system administered via housing exchanges (see here for an example ). This covers both the public and most of the private sectors. Length of time in the queue is a key criterion along with applicant preferences on location and size, and the maximum rent they are willing to pay; and an assessment of priority ‘needs’. The latter can take precedence over time in the queue with Councils setting the attributes for their areas.

However, landlords’ discretion is considerable and can, reportedly, override stated allocation principles. Equally, vacancy advertising is not universal , partly because of the healthy black market that has developed given high demand for properties and the opportunity for landlords to charge rather more than the regulated rent level. Another factor is that tenants have ‘considerable rights to transfer their rental contract or privately organise a direct swap of flats’. Both tend to work against lower income households.

So what options do lower income households have? The most common alternative is to rely on a series of short-term, second-hand contracts increasingly widespread in both the private rental and co-op sectors. Tenants have considerable rights to sub-let entire homes, though sub-tenants lack full protection on rent levels or security.

The shortage of affordable housing is predictably leading to rapidly rising rates of housing stress and deprivation.  While in the past mental illness and social issues like abuse tended to be key factors, there are now more people becoming homeless because they have a low income – young people, immigrants and older people on pensions.

There is currently little sign of any national strategy and into the vacuum are piecemeal short term (temporary housing) or ‘boutique’ initiatives such as a crowd funded scheme for co-op housing neither likely to do much for the many households missing out on decent homes.  Maybe Sweden needs its own ‘alla hemma’ (Everybody’s – or All at – Home) campaign.

I would like to thank Annika Wahlberg, Secretary General at the International Union of Tenants for kindly reviewing the article and advising on obvious errors. The opinions are my own.

[1] Brett Christophers (2013) A Monstrous Hybrid: The Political Economy of Housing in Early Twenty-first Century Sweden, New Political Economy, 18:6, 885-911, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2012.753521

A Focus on Older People: Ageing on the Edge – Let’s Change This

At the National Housing Conference on the 28th November 2017 we launched the NSW Ageing on the Edge reportThe Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes’ to a packed hall who listened to a stellar line up including the wonderful Susan Ryan and the indefatigable Jeff Fielder talk about the many, many older people who are reaching retirement without a safe secure and affordable place to call home. We heard from two older women too who after a lifetime of hard work were being forced to eat into their super capital to fund the rent or facing the prospect of successive short term rentals.

This was a report that could not sit on a shelf and gather dust. The 2016 census data released after the conference only reinforced the need for action. There were 6411 homeless older people on census night a mind blogging 43% increase since the last census. Across Australia older people (aged 55plus) now make up 16% of the total homeless population.

Which is why the groups who worked with the report authors HAAG and University of Adelaide as advisors agreed to continue to work together on practical projects that will make a difference not just by reducing homelessness and rental stress but also promote better more responsive housing services for older people. Our membership is drawn from the older persons’ sector, NSW government, housing providers, homelessness services and even, believe or not, older people themselves….

And we won’t just talk. The group have already started to put together some concrete projects for our first year including:

  • Filling the data and information gaps that were identified in the development of the report (e.g. information on Aboriginal older persons housing and support needs, CALD older people)
  • Bringing the aged care and community housing sectors together in a project that will help older people in social housing age in place
  • Working together to share data and collectively routinely produce indicators around older peoples housing/ homelessness
  • Continue to advocate and promote a service that will help older people at risk of homelessness find suitable accommodation. Victoria has its Home at Last, so why can’t NSW?

If you want to join us or find out more then get in touch via info@communityhousing.org.au

Energy Training

CHIA NSW has announced another round of free energy training for Community Housing staff and tenants. The training was designed by The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON), The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and CHIA SNW to respond to rises in energy prices in recent years.

The training is designed to help reduce energy costs and promote energy efficiency. Topics covered include:

  • understanding the energy sector
  • how to choose an energy contract
  • energy use in the home
  • accessing energy hardship programs

The next training dates are:

  • Liverpool: 3rd October 2018
  • Sydney CBD: 30th October 2018
  • Dubbo: 6th December 2018

More sessions are planned throughout 2019 and will be announced in the New Year.

To apply for a free place or for information click see: Energy training flyer with application form.

Housing and support help turn lives around: Heading Home evaluation

Wentworth CEO, Stephen McIntyre; Susan Templeman MP, Federal Member for
Macquarie; Mayor of Hawkesbury, Marry Lyons-Buckett; and Melissa Grah-McIntosh from Wentworth

During this year’s Homelessness Week, multi-awarded Heading Home project, led by Wentworth Community Housing, launched today an independent evaluation of the impact its activities have had in the Nepean district and on the lives of people rehoused during Registry Week. The report brings information on remaining challenges and points to local housing solutions.

As a result of Registry Week, held in November 2016, 26 people and nine families were rehoused in Penrith, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. This is in addition to existing housing and supporting services in the area. At follow up after six months, the study found 24 people and eight families remained housed and over 92% reported improved wellbeing.

Once housed, 71% of people had more support to call on in time of a crisis and 50% had started using a new health or community service.

“The people who participated in the study said that having a safe place to live has been most helpful for them to get their life sorted,” Wentworth Chief Executive Officer, Stephen McIntyre, said.

At a community level, the report shows that the people in the Nepean region, including influencers such as MPs, Councillors, community, and business leaders are now more informed about local homelessness.

On the challenging side, the report revealed a shortage of affordable local rental properties for permanent housing.

“The main focus of our project group now is to find local low-cost housing solutions, especially for people looking for a smaller place to live that they can afford.”

“We want to build on the strong community momentum achieved to tackle the shortage of affordable permanent housing.”

At the launch of the report, Wentworth will also announce plans for a Garden Flat EXPO to encourage local home owners to invest in garden flats.

“We think this is a win-win, where homeowners can secure a regular income and local people seeking a smaller home can stay in our communities.”

Link Housing is Moving

Local community housing provider, Link Housing, has recently opened a new office in West Ryde and will soon unveil new larger office facilities in Chatswood on 17th September 2018.

The new offices will give the not-for-profit organisation the space to continue to provide quality, client-focused and comprehensive service to their growing community of housing applicants and residents within Northern Sydney and beyond.

Link Housing CEO, Andrew McAnulty, who has been at Link Housing for five years now, has led the organisation through a period of significant growth. Last year the organisation won tenders to manage 235 specialist disability accommodation tenancies and almost 1900 social housing tenancies, previously managed by the NSW Government.

The new Link Housing West Ryde office is located minutes from West Ryde train station and in the same building as the FACS Northern district office, allowing Link Housing to work closely with FACS in the lead up to the SHMT “go live” in December this year.

In the Media